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WASHINGTON – As gas hovers at $3.30 a gallon, there is growing fear that a plan to open areas off the Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling will erode protections for California’s shores. The U.S. Senate could vote as early as next week on a bill to open an 8 million-acre segment of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil production while barring drilling within 125 miles of the Florida coastline. If it passes, negotiations are likely to begin over merging it with a separate House bill that would end a 25-year-old moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. The House measure passed with support from such coastal Republicans as Rep. Elton Gallegly, although opposition to offshore drilling runs deep in California. Coastal states like California could continue to ban offshore drilling but would have to vote to do so every five years. And Panetta and other environmental activists agreed that even eco-friendly California could some day bend to the pressure accompanying skyrocketing gas prices. Added Annie Strickler, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club, “This is a free ticket for oil and gas lobbyists to flood state capitols even more than they already have.” The House measure, driven by Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Stockton, would give individual states the right to allow drilling in federal waters extending three to 100 miles off the coast. It would permanently open federal waters between 100 and 200 miles from shore. At the same time, some of the royalties from new oil extraction would go to state coffers. Currently, all royalties go to Washington. The bill passed 232 to 187. Among Southern Californians, the vote came down strictly along party lines with even coastal Republicans like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Huntington Beach/Long Beach, and Gallegly, Thousand Oaks, voting in favor. Rohrabacher called opposition “the phoniest environmentalism of all.” “In reality what we’ve got are some people who want to have a beautiful view of the ocean from their yacht, and they’re willing to let the needs of the country go to hell,” Rohrabacher said. Gallegly issued a statement emphasizing state’s rights, saying, “I have long been an advocate of giving states a say in the resources off their shores. This bill does exactly that. States that do not want oil and gas exploration off their shores are protected.” Both lawmakers argued that the skyrocketing costs of gasoline underscore a dire need for U.S. oil production. Brendle maintained that passing legislation ending the moratorium would have an immediate stabilizing effect on the markets. Consumers, he predicted, could see prices drop in as little as 18 months. But Jim Presswood, energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, disagreed. “The amount of oil in these protected areas is just not enough to make a significant difference. Really, you’re not solving a problem and you’re putting multibillion-dollar economies at risk.” Panetta said he believes it would be between 15 to 20 years before consumers would see any price reduction from offshore U.S. drilling. “The reality is that we’re, in effect, helpless to do anything about the price of oil right now because of what’s happening in the world, and the fact that Congress has not taken steps to reduce our dependence on oil,” he said. For now, California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, are among those trying to block the Senate bill unless they can get an assurance that the state’s coastline won’t be affected under any potential compromise with the House. Still, Brendle said he believes the Senate will be successful in passing legislation. Panetta said he agrees that there is a strong current of support for the bill, and it worries him. [email protected] (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2While California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes moves that could open the door to drilling off the state’s coast, environmental advocates and others said it is a distinct future possibility. “I don’t foresee California any time in the near future opting out of any ban, but long-term I think it’s very possible,” said Bryan Brendle, director of energy and resources policy for the National Association of Manufacturers. “I don’t foresee any long-term decline in demand for natural gas. Electricity and energy prices will continue to go up. The price of manufactured goods will go up. And we’re in a period where there has not been in quite some time any environmental disaster related to offshore development,” Brendle said. Leon Panetta, former Clinton chief of staff who wrote the 1981 ban while serving as a Democrat U.S. representative from Monterey, said he feared there eventually would be an oil crisis that would weaken the ban. “Deep down, I knew that one day we would face the kind of problems that we’re facing now,” he said.
By Bob ConeyJEFFERSON, S.D. (May 28) – David Miller was the $1,000 winner of Raceway Park’s Jim Johnson Memorial for IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks Sunday night.The battle for the top spot raged through the first half of the feature until Miller took control. Behind Miller, Andy Hoffman had been charging through the field from his starting spot near the back, only to come up six feet short at the finish line.Behind Miller and Hoffman, Brandon Nielson took the third spot, followed by Tony Fetterman.Arie Schouten took his second win of the year in the KCAU9 IMCA Northern SportMods, followed by Colby Langenberg, Rusty Montagne and Nelson Vollbrecht.In the Casey’s General Store IMCA Stock Car division, Jason Ward broke into victory lane for the first time this year. Greg Taylor picked up two positions during the final green, white, checkered finish to take second followed by Bo Lundquist and Tom McKenzie.
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